I was in Peoria a couple years ago when Caterpillar announced it would move its corporate presence downtown. For a proud community with a struggling urban core, it was sweet news. But, it never happened.
Last week, the company divulged that it would be moving its worldwide headquarters to Chicago, citing the need to be closer to a global transportation hub. They also said it was about attracting and retaining top talent.
As logical as the "global hub" reason sounds, let's be clear...this is about the talent. Talent that won't be satisfied with the limited cultural, dining and entertainment options that currently exist in Peoria. While Chicago doesn't offer carp hunting (at least not yet), today's top talent is able to demand a more diverse lifestyle from its employer.
Which is why it's time for Economic Development agencies to start focusing on business acquisition that enhances quality of life rather than job creation. Not unlike Destination Marketing Organizations, where hotel stays are the result (not the prime directive), EDCs should look at job creation as the result.
And, those jobs will arrive based upon the cultural, culinary, retail, entertainment and recreational assets of the community.
As Apple famously said, it's time to "Think Different."